It’s a sad fact that I heard on the news this week that Suicide Rates among First Responders are up. It made me think. We often forget the emotional trauma our first responder’s encounter and have to deal with each day.
Some of us complain about our jobs and possibly the people we work with but add that to the horrors our first responders also see and deal with on the job. They are shot at or running into burning buildings or having someone they’re trying to save die in their arms.
We run the opposite way of gunshots, fire and danger, they run towards it each and every day. How do they cope with all this?
Statistics show that suicide rates among first responders are up and many are struggling after those 9-1-1 calls. Police Officers, Firefighters and EMS professionals see things we will never see in our lifetime. They have to make split-second decisions which can mean the difference between life and death for not only them but their partners and the people they are protecting.
We are losing more firefighters and Police officers to suicide than to deaths while on duty. The stress they are under makes them 5 times more likely than normal civilians to develop PTSD.
According to the Ruderman Foundation, there were at least 103 firefighter suicides and 140 police officer suicides last year.
That’s compared to 93 firefighters and 129 police officers who died in the line of duty.
This is a terrible trend among our first responders. But there is help out there and if you know someone who could benefit from talking to a professional, put them in touch with an organization that’s trying to help fight this trend.
In Pennsylvania they put up this billboard aimed at our first responders. It is these organizations goal to work with first responders and help to get the suicide rates among first responders down to zero. They teach them to help each other and to deal with the stress. They want them to know it’s OK to ask for help and talk to each other. After all, they are all going through the same thing on the job.
They can also talk to their department about bringing in a psychologist or chaplain when things become too hard to deal with on their own. They are all human and when involved in a shooting, police are required to speak to a psychologist. There is no shame in asking for help. This is something they have to live with for the rest of their lives.
Officer Speziale said, “What keeps me grounded is faith, family, and friendship…We have to be able to continue to function when everything else is falling about,”
I hope this has helped someone out there who is struggling or worried about a loved one. They take care of us, so let’s take care of them. Sometimes our heroes need a little saving too!
If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, be sure to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
For more tips on how to talk to your loved one about suicide, click here.
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